Federal judge rules clergy abuse lawsuit against Vatican can proceed

[JURIST] A federal judge in Kentucky ruled Thursday that three plaintiffs would be allowed to proceed to the discovery phase of their lawsuit against the Holy See [official website] alleging that US bishops, acting as agents of Vatican officials, negligently allowed known child abusers to remain in their positions. The 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text] generally excludes sovereign nations from the jurisdiction of federal courts, but US District Judge John G. Heyburn II noted that an exception permits suits for personal injuries caused by the negligent actions of agents or employees. AP has more. CWNews.com has additional coverage. From Louisville, the Courier-Journal has local coverage.

In an earlier stage of the same case in October 2005, Heyburn ruled [JURIST report] that the Vatican is a foreign state subject to at least some of the immunity protections of the FSIA and could assert those protections when it was improperly served with process. In other cases naming the Vatican as a defendant, the US Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland [diocesan website; diocesan website on clergy abuse] in December settled 150 child sex abuse lawsuits [JURIST report], mooting the Vatican's appeal [JURIST report] of the lower court ruling allowing the abuse case to proceed [JURIST report].

 

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